The Pogba Question…

 

Pogba

Manchester United let him leave for free in 2012 now they want to pay £100 million to sign him back? Inconceivable. We certainly wouldn’t have bet on it.

Paul Pogba’s career to date has not been without controversy.

Born in France he started at his career at US Torcy before moving to Le Harve at a young age. He was at the centre of a tapping up scandal back in 2009 with accusations that Manchester United had approached the young player before they were legally permitted to. United were eventually cleared by a tribunal and Le Harve accepted a confidential settlement in lieu of a transfer fee.

Three years later in 2012, Pogba decided not to renew his contract at United citing lack of first team playing opportunities and moved to Juventus. A disgruntled Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the Italian club had been in contact with Pogba long before they were permitted to. Ironic.

Meanwhile Pogba was doing his talking on the pitch. He only made 7 appearances during his time at Manchester United and failed to score, but he found the back of the net 34 times in 178 games for Juventus.

This form won him a call up to the senior French national team in 2013 and he has since scored 6 goals in 38 matches for them including a goal in the 5-2 defeat of Iceland at Euro 2016.

He has received rave reviews for his performances and is one of the hottest properties in club football right now.

A combative midfielder with a wide range of passing, great first touch, powerful shot and high energy levels is he worth such a vast transfer fee? United certainly seem to think so and there is a great deal of media speculation that Juventus would be happy to receive a world breaking offer.

By letting him get away initially Manchester United could be on the verge of one of the biggest about-faces in football history.

But what else could you get for £100million? Here are just a few things* you could blow the lot on:

* 1 x Airbus A320 or 1 x 150 West 56th Street PH – New York’s most expensive triplex Penthouse

* 2 x Oppenheimer Blue diamonds (even though there is only one)

* 9 x Patek Phillipe Super-complication fob watches

* 16 x Formula 1 cars

* 20 x 34m Sunseeker yachts

* A massive bet on Leicester to win the league again at 29/1

* 58 x Bugatti Veyrons

* 400 x bottles of 1907 Heidsieck Champagne (raised from a shipwreck and over 100 years old)

* 5000 x tins of Almas caviar

* 185,528 x iPhone 6S’s – enough to give one each to the population of Samoa and still have a few thousand spares

* Prices taken from a variety of reputable websites…

Rangers Signing Joe Dodoo Once Again Shows Progress At Ibrox

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Today Rangers announced the signing of Joe Dodoo on a four year deal from English Premier League champions Leicester City.

It has again shown us that the Ibrox outfit are thinking long-term and making the most of connections that they have in England and in the youth set-up down south.

Dodoo was offered a new longer deal to stay on at the King Power stadium but decided to travel north of the border in order to gain more first team opportunities.

Speaking to David Bevan, a Foxes supporter and author of ‘The Unbelievables‘ (a book chronicling Leicester City’s title winning campaign), he states:

“The good news for Glasgow Rangers supporters is: we’re surprised Dodoo is leaving.”

David speculates that the reason for the departure was that Leicester’s huge unexpected success last season has hindered Dodoo’s chances of having a clear route into the Foxes first team:

“Rangers won’t be signing a discarded player so much as one who has been unable to match the club’s startling rate of progress”

The young attacker had the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Leonardo Ulloa, Shinji Okazaki and Demarai Gray ahead of him in the queue to play for Claudio Ranieri’s side in the East Midlands. The Premier League champs have also just completed the club record signing of Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa, who can play up front or out-wide just like Joe.

So it’s easy to understand why Joe Dodoo has decided to leave the Premier League champions.

I can also understand why he’s ended up in Glasgow, signing for Rangers.

Gers boss Mark Warburton has a history of giving young players the chance to shine in the first team. Last season young industrious winger Barrie McKay was given the opportunity to prove himself at Rangers and he was one of their stars of the season and earned international recognition in the summer.

So if you are good enough and have the right attitude, then you’ll get your chance to star at Ibrox under Warburton and Dodoo will be all out to prove himself and relish that challenge.

The Rangers manager and the recruitment team have obviously been impressed by Dodoo, who scored four times for the Foxes in two League Cup encounters and also managed to make his Premier League debut last term.

Dodoo is a versatile player who can play on the wing or through the middle as a striker. He possesses pace, skills and a composed finish with either foot. Being versatile will impress Warburton who will no doubt use the youngster in both positions.

Joe also has raw talent and plenty of potential and Rangers fans will hope that they can see him develop into a star. The Ibrox faithful believe in Warburton and chief talent spotter Frank McParland and will hope that Dodoo represents another top young talent that can excite them when they see him taking on opponents.

He arrives at Rangers during the same summer as other exciting prospects; Jordan Rossiter, Matt Crookes and Josh Windass. All players who were being scouted by other English sides. But moving to Rangers means a better chance of getting straight into the first team.

For the club they can pick up these young English talents for a fraction of the price because they only need to pay relatively small developmental fees. It means that they can hopefully watch these players develop into real gems and then they can sell them on for a hefty profit.

After a few years of really odd, boring and disappointing transfer purchases, Rangers are now thinking longer term and are running the club like a proper sporting business. It doesn’t mean that they won’t try and win things or entertain, it just shows a willingness to get more for their buck in the transfer market and that’s something that Rangers fans have wanted to see for a long time now.

I’ll leave it up to David to assess what this deal means for Rangers:

“A hat-trick on his debut in the League Cup, a goal against West Ham in the next round, a substitute appearance at Bournemouth in the Premier League: none of these things were quite enough to push Dodoo into Claudio Ranieri’s first-team plans this season, but they show enough promise for Rangers fans to be confident they are signing a very impressive young player – particularly the coolness of finishing in relatively pressurised situations.”

 

Picture Blog: Venezia

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During my honeymoon I managed to sneak away in Venice for a wee walk around the Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, home of Venezia.

It’s a unique location and has been the home of star players like Alvaro Recoba, Christian Vieri and Luis Oliveira in the past.

These days you’ll find legendary Italian striker Pippo Inzaghi prowling around the home teams dugout.

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Chelsea Strike Gold With N’Golo Kante Signing

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Today Chelsea announced their second signing of the summer, welcoming midfielder N’Golo Kante from Premier League champions Leicester City in a £30m plus deal.

That might seem a bit steep for a player that likes to sit in front of the back four and protect his defence. But Kante was a big reason for the Foxes’ success last term.

He was constantly on the move breaking down opposition attacks with his tenacious, well timed tackling and his supreme ability to make countless interceptions. Ultimately his willingness to commit to the role as chief protector was just as important as that as top goalscorer Jamie Vardy and maestro Riyad Mahrez to the Leicester City title winning cause. Like all members of that league title winning squad, Kante is now a legend in the East Midlands.

Chelsea looked extremely fragile last season and often looked soft in the middle of the park with Nemanja Matić not offering the same kind of performances he had done during the 2014/15 Premier League winning campaign.

So new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would have been desperate to solve a key defensive issue, that should now allow more creative players like Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Willian a greater chance to shine going forward knowing that they have significant cover behind them.

Conte is a strong personality who likes committed players that aren’t scared of hardwork. Kante has all the characteristics that make him an ideal future Conte foot-soldier. It’s a tad ironic that the former Azzurri coach Conte would state he’d seek advice from Leicester’s Claudio Ranieri about adapting to English football and then the very next day take one of Ranieri’s star players.

N’Golo’s early performances at Euro 2016 would have shown Chelsea that he’s definitely up to the task of playing at Stamford Bridge and helping the Blues climb back up the Premier League table.

Although Kante isn’t known for forward play, don’t underestimate the Frenchman. He can start attacks after winning the ball back and can also make runs with the ball that carries it closer to the opposition penalty area. Last season he managed to create four league assists for the Foxes.

So far N’Golo Kante has made numerous step-ups in his career and so far he has made every single one with ease. In fact he’s actually improved with each new adventure, so I’d expect the new price tag not to faze him and for him to become a regular straight away next term.

I also believe that Chelsea have found their new Claude Makelele, a midfield marshall who will go about his job with minimal fuss and who will elevate his sides chances with his defensive discipline and eagerness to win the ball back at every opportunity.

So it really is an impact signing that could go along way in helping Chelsea challenge again at the top of English football.

The Best (And Worst) Fans Of The Euros So Far

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We’re just about halfway through the tournament, and already some pundits have called Euro 2016 one of the more disappointing competitions in recent memory. Teams that were hyped up before the tournament don’t seem to have delivered the spark expected of them, with Germany in particular looking pedestrian. Some have also pointed out the low scoring nature of this year’s tournament, with only 73 goals scored over the first 39 games. Although that sounds like a lot, that number was exceed after only 25 games in the last significant international tournament, Brazil 2014.

It’s likely that when future generations look back on documentations of Euro 2016, they’ll read as much about the fans of the tournament as the quality of the football on display. For the past month, fans from around the continent have hit the newspaper pages just as much as the teams they support, being splashed on front and back pages for both positive and negative reasons.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to stay one step ahead of the football historians, and look at two of the best (and two of the worst) groups of supporters we’ve seen so far, with images courtesy of Stay Sourced.

BEST

Republic of Ireland

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Back in 2012, the boys in green had statistically one of the worst Euros performances of all time, dropping out in the group stages with 0 points and a -8 goal difference. Not much was expected of the Republic of Ireland this year, but with O’Neill and Keano at the helm it’s safe to say that the team did far better than what anyone expected of them, especially considering the tough group they were placed in.

But enough about the team, because it’s the Irish fans that have been the real stars of the tournament. For a few weeks, the press at home, in the UK, and across the continent was filled with

almost biblical stories depicting Irish fans as Christ-like figures, travelling the country performing good deeds wherever they went. Amongst the miracles performed include singing to a nun, serenading a baby to sleep on a tram, helping to change a tyre, and even cleaning up after themselves. Ireland’s fans were so well behaved (and well liked) that the French public have officially voted them the best visiting fans of the tournament.

Wales

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Much like Ireland, Wales weren’t really expected to do anything other than turn up at this tournament, with patronising pundits repeating the old cliché that they’d just be “happy to be there”. Naysayers have soon been proved wrong, with the championship first timers fast becoming the only home nation left competing. Even more surprising is that Wales have arguably played some of the more entertaining matches of the tournament, although that could just be a reflection on the wider quality of football being played.

Welsh fans have proved themselves adept at the whole Euros thing too, although the 18602 miles individual fans travelled to qualify may have given them some experience. Again, like Ireland, it’s always a good sign when a team’s fans are actively praised by the police of the home country, with the Gendarmes praising the friendliness of the visiting Dragons. Samaritan like deeds have been widely documented on social media, with Welsh fans pictured helping a lost boy find his dad being just one example. Bale has praised supporters too, calling them the team’s 12th man after their victory to Slovakia.

Worst

Russia

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The Russian team carried out potentially some of the worst performances of the tournament, fielding a team that looked to be actively accepting of failure. When your only consolation is snatching a victory against a similarly abject looking England, then there’s probably something going wrong.

The only defence that can be given is that Russia’s behaviour on the pitch wasn’t half as bad as the behaviour of the fans off it. Although they couldn’t make themselves well known through the quality of football played, Russia’s support soon became the talking point of the tournament, smashing up bars, cars, and town squares with glee. Fans were accused of travelling with the sole intention of causing trouble, something that Go pro footage would seem to confirm. Although Russia were handed a suspended disqualification and a €150,000 fine, this isn’t likely to deter a minority of fans who seem more interested in replicating tired old hooligan clichés than watching football. With the world cup heading to Russia in 2018, the next couple of years of international football look set to be a riot.

England

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Poor old England. Every tournament seems to start and end in the same way, but the media, fans, and players never seem to learn. Pre-tournament things looked pretty optimistic for the three Lions, with a young squad causing talk of a new “golden generation”. However, as the tournament went on England looked ever more nervous, eventually bowing out in the only way that an England side seems to know how.

With performances as bad as Englands, it’s hard to blame the fans for their behaviour. Much like their team, supporters of the three Lions delivered a classic English away performance this year. Excessive alcohol consumption? Check. Offensive chanting? Check. Damage of property? Check. It was almost as if fans had got stuck in a time warp on the way to Marseille and been spat out in 1998. Of course, all English fans weren’t to blame for all of the trouble, and it’s acknowledged now that in many cases local and visiting ultras were the provocation for a minority of the support. However, that doesn’t excuse talk of fans taunting local children, or commiserating a defeat by fighting amongst themselves.

Images courtesy of Stay Sourced – head over to their Battle of the Fans to view more stats on the fans and teams of Euro 2016.

Moussa Dembele Starts New Celtic Era Off With A Bang!

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Celtic today announced new manager Brendan Rodgers had made his first signing by bringing in young French hot-shot Moussa Dembele from Fulham.

It’s a real coup for the Scottish champions as he arrives after his contract expired with the English Championship side, meaning that the Hoops will only need to fork out around £500k in compensation for the striker. That’s a bargain price for a player who Tottenham Hotspur bid £6m for in January and who was reportedly interesting Arsene Wenger and Arsenal earlier in the summer.

But Rodgers has stolen a march on the rest of those interested in Dembele and tied him down. The attacker will believe that he can break into the Celtic starting eleven straight away and have a chance to shine in the Champions League.

That kind of exposure will only benefit the player, who impressed last term with his seventeen goals for the Cottagers.

The nineteen year old has put pen to paper on a four year deal, which means that Celtic will be hoping that he stays in Glasgow for at least two years and impressing richer sides who will then splash the cash for his services when the time is right.

I know that it seems to be in bad taste to suggest a club the size of Celtic are a stepping stone for a youngster like Dembele but that’s where we are at the moment with Scottish football. Plus to be honest surely it’s better to see young talent develop into stars, rather than continually sign ageing veterans who hold little to no transfer value and who have lost their legs or/and ambition.

Pus let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, Celtic fans should just wait and see what type of player they’ve signed, then enjoy what they see. Moussa has been selected ten times for the French under-19 team and returned with five goals. He is a goalscoring forward who has both strength and pace. He is also composed in front of goal, which is sometimes unusual for one so young.

At Fulham, Moussa enjoyed a strong striking partnership with Scottish forward Ross McCormack. That should mean that Brendan Rodgers will partner Dembele with Leigh Griffiths and if they can gel, then the rest of Scottish football could be worried about having to face the deadly duo.

When I saw that Celtic were interested in Moussa Dembele, I’m not going to lie I scoffed. I really didn’t think that they could beat off stiff competition from top European sides to get him up to Glasgow. But well done to the deal makers at Parkhead, they’ve managed to bring in Brendan Rodgers first signing and it’s a statement signing too.

Hopefully Moussa will go on and reach his potential at Celtic Park and bring in lots of foreign press and scouts to our game. It shows that with some smart thinking Scottish sides can still find gems and bring them to our league!

EURO 2016: Eden’s Return To Form Should Provide Wales With A Hazard Warning!

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Belgium ran out impressive 4-0 winners last night against a Hungarian team that had done well previously in Euro 2016. The outstanding performance from Belgian captain Eden Hazard would have raised a few eye-brows, especially in the Welsh camp.

Wales will now taken on the Belgians in the quarter-final stage of the competition on Friday night.

Against Hungary you could see that Hazard was looking more and more like the world class creative force we knew he could be at this tournament. As the Hungarians tried to find a way back into the game after Toby Alderweireld headed home the opener after just ten minutes, Hazard kept on finding more space and always looked dangerous on the ball.

In the seventy-eighth minute Hazard beautifully beat his man on the lefthand side and picked out substitute striker Michy Batshuayi free inside the penalty area to tap in Belgium’s second of the game. His run and cross were majestic and showed his true qualities as a vibrant attacking threat.

Then a minute later, Eden once again picked up the ball on the left. He then cut in onto his right foot, evaded two challenges and expertly curled the ball past Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. You could see that he had finally arrived at these European Championships, is ready to step up for his country and play with a smile on his face.

If he can keep turning the style on like that, then Belgium must fancy securing a spot in this summer’s final (They’re in the favourable side of the draw after all). Hazard is starting to play with that swagger that helped Chelsea to the Premier League title in 2015. He is one of those players that can change a game in an instant with a superb pass, run or goal!

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The odds above have been taken from Bet365 and show that the Belgian’s will be priced as favourites for this encounter. They have kept three cleansheets in their last three games and have other star forwards in Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne who can also be match winners.

But Wales can take heart in the fact that a well organised Italian team managed to nullify the Belgian attacking threat and beat them 2-0 in their opening group game. The Welsh obviously also have a world class attacker in Gareth Bale and let’s not forget that he won the match the last time these two teams met in the qualifiers.

Wales boss Chris Coleman has upped the pressure on his opponents by stating:

“if you have a squad with that quality then any team you play against, apart from maybe two of three, Belgium are favourites.”

But I think if Belgium’s quality can shine through on Friday night in Lille (Hazard’s former footballing home) then not even Gareth Bale can prevent Eden Hazard and Co in their march for the European crown!

Liverpool’s Move For Sadio Mané Could Catapult Them Into Top Four Challengers

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It has been reported that forward Sadio Mané will undergo a medical at Liverpool today after the Merseyside club had a bid in excess of £30m accepted from Southampton.

It could be a fantastic signing for Jurgen Klopp as he reshapes his squad and gets them ready for a tilt at a top four finish next season, maybe they can even challenge for the Premier League title.

In Mané, Klopp has identified a proven Premier League match winner and one who will fit into his system.

Like so many modern day managers Jurgen likes players who can play in various positions, who have plenty of pace and also possess a direct approach that often has opposition defences playing on the back foot.

Last term for the Saints, the Senegal international bagged fifteen goals for his club (in all competitions) and six assists. In his last five appearances of the season he produced six goals and that also included a hat-trick against Manchester City!

Klopp saw Sadio’s class and attributes first hand as his two goals against Liverpool helped secure Southampton a 3-2 win over the Reds back in March. He also scored, provided an assist and won the man of the match award in his teams 3-1 away win against Chelsea last season.

So he’s certainly a player capable of stepping up and performing in the big games!

Looking at the current Liverpool side, I’d imagine that Mané would come in on the right wing and take Adam Lallana’s place in the first eleven. He certainly offers more than Lallana and is also more consistent.

Even though Sadio played more centrally for Southampton during the last campaign, he actually scored more when he started out on the right-wing.

Opposition sides will be slightly fearful to travel to Anfield and face the creative trio of Philippe Coutinho (left), Roberto Firmino (attacking centre) and Mané (right) playing behind either Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge. No doubt the three behind the frontman will interchange at various points and cause markers an infinite amount of headaches.

Unlike the two Brazilians, Sadio Mané will also add extra strength to Liverpool’s attack.

At twenty-four years of age the Senegalese forward is only getting better after each season and hasn’t rushed his career in the hope of a gigantic move as soon as possible.

As a teenager he left school at fifteen in the hope of making it as a professional footballer and was soon spotted FC Metz. He’d spend one full season in Ligue 2 before moving to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg in 2012, in a €4m deal.

In Austria he’d stay for two full seasons and score thirty-one league goals in sixty-three matches. He would also help ‘Die Roten Bullen’ to a league and cup double in 2014. That form and potential was enough to convince Southampton to spend over £10m on him in the summer of 2014.

It has proven to be money well spent and his flamboyant and dynamic performances have helped cement Southampton as a top half side in the Premier League with Man United chasing his signature last summer.

I honestly think this is a great move for Liverpool and is a big statement that things will be done properly under Jurgen Klopp.

They won’t be waiting around as other sides do their business first. Nor will they rush into panic buys that don’t fit into the manager’s tactical system.

Now all the German coach needs to do is sort out new recruits for the backline and that probably should start with a more defensive minded left-back that can challenge Alberto Moreno for that starting position.

Should that happen, then I can’t see why Liverpool can’t get back into the well sought after top four places!

 

 

 

Premier League 2016/17 Preview

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The European Championship and Copa America may be currently taking centre stage in the football world, but the release of the fixture list ahead of the 2016/2017 season has reminded everyone that the start of the Premier League is just around the corner. It promises to be one of the most intriguing and exciting seasons in years, with all eyes on Leicester City to see if their fairytale story includes another chapter in which they successfully defend their crown against an inevitable backlash from the big guns.

Claudio Ranieri’s side surpassed all expectations by storming their way towards the title against all the odds, with Leicester enjoying a remarkable rise from relegation contenders to league winners. You cannot take anything away from their remarkable achievement, but with Leicester set to compete on four fronts, it remains to be seen if lightning strikes twice for the Foxes. Coral certainly do not believe that Leicester will defend the title in the latest football betting odds, but if Ranieri is able to bring in top quality players and manage to persuade Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante to stay at the King Power Stadium, then there is no reason to write Leicester off.

High-profile managerial changes in Manchester have made a big difference to their title chances, with City installed as favourites to come back strongly after a rather indifferent campaign under Manuel Pellegrini. Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were undoubtedly their standout players when Manchester City hit top form, but without captain Vincent Kompany at the back they were defensively vulnerable and conceded a number of poor goals as they failed to find any sort of consistency. Pep Guardiola will certainly look to address their deficiencies on the pitch by bringing his hugely successful brand of football to the Etihad Stadium, and with the board promising to back their new manager with all the funds he needs to put Manchester City back on track, Ilkay Gundogan will certainly not be the last player to arrive through the doors.

There is no question that the Manchester derbies will carry extra spice next season, with Guardiola’s long-term rival, Jose Mourinho, taking over the reins at Old Trafford after Louis Van Gaal failed to convince the board that he could take the club forward. The “Special One” has a big job on his hands to bring attractive football back to a team that were seen as too passive this season, and although his acrimonious departure from Chelsea left a black mark on his reputation as one of the best managers in world football, Manchester United are convinced that Mourinho is the man to achieve success. Getting one over Guardiola next season is merely on a side note to the work that Manchester United have ahead of them to make up for finishing as low as fifth and therefore failing to qualifying for the Champions League, but being rated as second favourites to win next season’s Premier League title with Coral illustrates a growing belief that they can only get better under Mourinho. A more attractive brand of football, combined with more high-profile signings to go alongside the £30 million acquisition of Ivorian defender Eric Bailly, should stand Manchester United in good stead, and with transfer speculation linking them with a host of top quality players, it could be a very interesting summer at Old Trafford.

North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham will also fancy their chances of mounting a serious title challenge after finishing second and third respectively. The latter had put themselves in a wonderful position to finish ahead of Arsenal for the first time since 1995 after pushing Leicester all the way, but a poor end to their campaign saw Mauricio Pochettino’s side slip down to third. Tottenham certainly lit up the Premier League through a fluent, free-flowing style of football that certainly caught the eye, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli among those who played starring roles, but their lack of cover upfront may have cost them a shot at the title.

The same could be said for Arsenal who may be one of the most attractive sides to watch in England, but Arsene Wenger’s stubbornness and reluctance to spend has often proved costly when injuries and suspensions begin to take their toll. The big-money arrival of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach may suggest a change in emphasis from Wenger, and if Arsenal are willing to loosen the purse strings even further to make necessary improvements to their squad, then the Gunners could be the team to look out for.

Jurgen Klopp has established solid foundations on which he can build upon as he is set to start his first full campaign in charge of Liverpool, with the former Borussia Dortmund manager making a big difference since replacing Brendan Rodgers last October. They, alongside West Ham and Everton, will hope to follow in Leicester and Tottenham’s footsteps by breaking into the top four and separating the big clubs even further, with the latter of the three on the crest of a wave following billionaire Farhad Moshiri’s takeover and the appointment of Ronald Koeman as their new manager. The same level of excitement is also felt at West Ham, with Slaven Bilic’s men moving to the Olympic Stadium as part of their vision to expand the club’s horizon. They will hope to keep hold of prized asset Dimitri Payet who has taken his wonderful form for West Ham onto the international stage with France, with the 29-year-old taking Euro 2016 by storm through fantastic performances and wonderful goals.

The three promoted clubs from the Championship will hope to follow in Bournemouth and Watford’s footsteps by establishing themselves as a top-flight club, with Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City all returning to the Premier League after respective spells in the lower division. All three certainly have the experience and quality to make a good fist of it, but although promotion has provided them with the considerable riches that come via broadcasting and sponsorship deals, they may have to strengthen in the transfer market. Middlesbrough have already been active in signing Ajax winger Viktor Fischer and Colombian centre-back Bernando Espinosa, and if they continue to add good quality players to their squad, then it may leave the likes of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and West Brom looking over their shoulders if they find themselves near the bottom of the table again.

Spurs signing Victor Wanyama Would Be Smart Piece Of Business

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It was obviously to everyone and anyone who watched Tottenham Hotspur’s final few weeks of last season that they needed extra strength in depth to compete for the Premier League title, especially in the holding midfielder department.

So it comes as no surprise that Mauricio Pochettino is about to be reunited with Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama at White Hart Lane.

The defensive middleman is reportedly going to cost Spurs £11m from Southampton. That’s a pretty small fee for a proven performer in the Premier League but it should be noted that the player himself seems desperate to leave for London and only has a year left on his contract. Even still, Daniel Levy will be delighted to sign a player for half the fee he would’ve had to pay for him last summer.

At twenty-four years of age, Victor has still to hit his prime. But he’s already proven himself as a strong and consistent competitor.

Spurs seemed to lack a proper steely presence in the midfield during the title run-in, especially after the suspensions of Dele Alli and Moussa Dembele came into play. Wanayam will add strength and will help to shore things up as he patrols in front of the defence.

After Dembele’s suspension, Ryan Mason was selected in the holding role beside Eric Dier. Unfortunately for Mason he often looked out of his depth and didn’t convince you he was a capable defensive midfielder.

It is a position Wanyama knows extremely well and made his own at Celtic and then at Southampton.

He is definitely more aggressive than someone like Mason, he gets around the grass and isn’t afraid to put in a tackle. Last season he received three red cards and four yellows. That amount of reds isn’t great but he hadn’t picked up a red card in the three seasons before last term.

Wanyama often goes through a season with an 80% or higher passing success rate and we all know that Pochettino likes his players to keep the ball. The Kenyan doesn’t get ambitious with it and won’t provide numerous assists but he knows his role and will just pass it on to a player more capable of providing his side with some creative magic. He’s also not prolific in front of goal but will usually chip in with a goal or two a season.

When I think of Victor Wanyama I often think back to Celtic matches against Barcelona in the Champions League during the 2012-13 season. He gave a disciplined performance throughout both ties and worked tirelessly to protect his defence from Barca’s continued onslaughts. The then twenty year old midfielder even managed to get on the scoresheet with a header doing Celtic’s 2-1 win over the Catalan giants at Celtic Park.

His experience in the Champions League could be vital as Tottenham make a return to that illustrious competition this up and coming season.

Wanyama is also strong in the air which is advantageous both when attacking and defending set-pieces.

Obviously Pochettino took him to Southampton and knows what he can do.

A lot of Spurs fans will view him as a squad player but I doubt he’ll be joining the club with that as being his ultimate goal. He is an ambitious, determined type who always proves himself at every club he’s been at and at every level.

When he gets his chance I expect him to impress in a Tottenham Hotspur jersey and the fans to be surprised by the amount of tackles he wins and interceptions he’ll come away with.

A strong first signing of the summer for Tottenham, Pochettino and Levy.

As N’Golo Kante proved last season, it’s not just the big buys that helps you win trophies.